Ah, the day a new sales consultant starts. That moment of relief, believing that all will be well and the sales floor will have coverage for the weekend. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Well, let’s back up for a second. It seems that there are three schools of thought when hiring the ideal sales consultant. That is A. hiring a Sales Consultant with dealership experience, B. hiring a Sales Consultant with sales experience (not dealerships specific) and C. hiring a Sales Consultant with no experience. Either may wind up being the best hire ever, BUT let’s take a step back for a second. The idea that we let a new hire loose on the sales floor without any training can be a recipe for disaster…. And it happens every single day! While they might have all the necessary ingredients, they don’t have a good recipe. At the end of the day, you’ve got a recipe that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth as, yet another Sales Consultant turns over. And who knows how many opportunities.
While It’s never easy to determine the success of a new Sales Consultant – off the cuff – various factors must be considered. That is everything from training, sales goals, experience, and an overall plan of action for the first ninety days on the job. Think about it for a minute. Just because they’ve got sales experience at another dealership doesn’t mean they’ll automatically know how you run your dealership. Much less whether or not they’ve ever had proper training on how to handle objections or manage leads. So, while inventory is at an all-time low and customers are conditioned to buy without much hesitation, this will not last forever. Instead, it’s the perfect time to solidify your hiring process and ensure everyone has the proper training.
Here are two things to think about when onboarding a new Sales Consultant.
- Have a Process for New Hires That Is Consistent
I understand that you need to cover the sales floor while hoping they’ll sell the eight to ten units needed to meet OEM goals. But hiring a Sales Consultant to fill the hole and praying they don’t sink isn’t a cost-effective solution, and it won’t help your dealer. Another issue that dealers encounter when allowing a new Sales Consultant to work on the floor is that they’ve most likely had zero lead management training, or worse – allowing them to work the sales floor without any OEM product training. Living on a prayer might work, but why risk losing customers for the hope that they’ll sell a vehicle they know nothing about?
You may be scratching your head about not allowing an experienced sales consultant on the floor, but the truth is that while they have the expertise, they’re unfamiliar with your process. If your sales consultant is not following a process, it can and will result in unwanted break-points in both the sales process and, more significantly, the customer’s entire experience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed a new-to-the-floor “seasoned” sales consultant sell customers things or “We-Owes” that would otherwise be prohibited. All of this can not only reduce your profit margins but will also lead to frustration on both sides. Not to mention the “unwanted” “meeting” your Sales Manager will have to have, in which case the new sales consultant may be chastised for offering freebies or products that aren’t even an option. This creates unnecessary tension that could have been avoided.
- Your Sales Training Isn’t Working. But Not for the Reasons You Might Think.
Let’s not forget the famous “one on ones” or “shadow days” that Sales Managers use to train new hires. In many cases, the GM will tell the Sales Managers to spend time with the new hire. Sounds great, right? It works in restaurants, doesn’t it? But in reality, the new Sales Consultant will most likely spend time shadowing a Sales Consultant who follows their own set of processes, which will not help the new hire. It just reinforces bad habits.
And one of the most common reasons sales managers give for not spending time with new hires and instead assigning them to whoever is available is due to “lack of time.” And look, your Sales Managers are undoubtedly busy, but at the end of the day, it’s often not about “time,” but rather about what’s in it for them. Have you considered rewarding your Sales Managers with retention bonuses for their Sales Consultants? If they had a strong incentive to boost retention, it would benefit the dealer and them as managers – knowing that nothing is more frustrating than starting over every month by hiring a new sales consultant.
The last component of not having an effective sales strategy is not realizing that it takes time to go through the process. Far too frequently, a dealer’s training program has good intentions but ends up throwing them onto a floor to assist a customer when they have no idea how anything works. This can frustrate the customer and creates a rift between the Sales Manager and the new sales consultant. If you’re going to implement a sales training process, stick to it! Not everyone will make it through the ninety days, and for those who don’t, it will give you insight into the breakpoints and provide ideas on how to address them.
Lastly, there’s nothing wrong with having an outside source – whose highly trained in sales processes and lead management – to assist your dealership! Techniques that are proven to work! In fact, by doing so, it not only ensures that your Sales Consultants are appropriately trained, but it also allows your managers a means of managing their Sales Consultants on consistent processes.